Wednesday, March 4
Despite the name, Notoriety is the very picture of a chilled-out midweek lounge night. Phoenix, Hall and Oates and mellower, MGMT-style electro play on the sound system, selected by hosts John and Paul Thornley (of the local band U.S. Royalty). Chi-Cha Lounge's bartenders serve $2 shots of whiskey and $4 Sam Adams and Blue Moon beers. The casually (but fashionably) dressed crowd relaxes on couches, sharing hookahs as Jean-Luc Goddard's wildly vivid "Pierrot le Fou" plays silently on screens overhead. In short, the perfect way to start easing towards the weekend. Doors for the free party open at 8, but don't expect much of a crowd before 10.
Every teenager with a pair of headphones or a new car knows what the most important element of music is: Bass. That's why you hear hip-hop hits rattling their Camry's speakers at stoplights and leaking out of their cheap iPod earbuds on the Metro. A deep, thudding low end is the common thread that runs from '60s reggae through thumping '70s disco and house, boom-bap '80s hip-hop, skittering '90s drum 'n' bass and the brash electro and breaks of the new millennia. We hope Modern has upgraded its sound system before tonight's debut of the weekly "I Love Bass," which features a constantly changing crew of DJs spinning their genres of choice -- the only requirement is that it has to have bass. Featured on the decks are Rockmaster Rus B of the bangin' Funk Weapons crew; Slant, of the longtime d'n'b fixtures 2Tuff; and Joe L from househead favorites Everybody Loves Music. The show runs from 9 to 2 with drink specials and no dress code. It's free before 11 if you RSVP via Facebook (see iLoveBASS.info) or $5 otherwise.
Thursday, March 5
The Black Lips (listen) have come a long way over the past few years. From a backstage show at the Black Cat featuring an overhead projector as A/V accoutrement to a big ol' review of new album "200 Million" in the Style section. Plus all that press they got (mission accomplished!) for getting kicked out of India on a recent tour. We've written about this band's rowdy live performances and "Nuggets"-worthy garage rock plenty of times, so this time we'll focus on openers Gentleman Jesse and His Men (listen). The band is also from Atlanta, and if you like Black Lips tunes but feel it's all become a bit too gimmicky lately, then Gentleman Jesse is exactly what you need. From the first seconds of "Highland Crawler," the lead track on the band's self-titled album, you know things are going to be great. That song "borrows" its opening chords from Nick Lowe's "So It Goes," but since that is one of the best songs, y'know, ever, it will elicit no complaints here. There's no let up on the rest of the album, an absolute onslaught of irresistible hooks. If you're going to slap a label on the band, don't bother with the lo-fi/garage tag that's big these days -- this is a pop band, and one of the best around. Suns of Guns also open at the Black Cat.
The word is out about Alice Russell (listen.) After four solo releases in five years plus numerous collaborations, she's no longer an underground darling; she's on an express train to mainstream attention. This bubbly British blueswoman pulls heavy soul from the gut, belts over quirky dance rock courtesy of producer TM Juke and can also caress an acoustic ballad. There won't be many more chances to catch her again in such an intimate venue as Bohemian Caverns.
Tonight, Washington's unusual concert venue becomes the city's most unusual (and unlikely) happy hour spot. The Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, which has found new life hosting shows by Kris Kristofferson, Lykke Li and M. Ward, is the site of this month's Soiree Carte Blanche, which brings Francophiles and French natives together for live music, art and socializing. Bring an MP3 player for the requisite iPod battle -- you have three songs to get the crowd on your side -- but the Alliance Francaise's wide-ranging event includes a tribute to celebrated French mime Marcel Marceau, crepes, and a series of videos and short films. French wine is available at a cash bar. In honor of Purim, there's a Queen Esther costume contest and samplings of hamentashen. All that happens at the happy hour from 6 to 8, followed by a party from 8 to 11 with live music from Belle and Sebastian-tinged indie-rockers Bellman Barker and dance music spun by DJ Donald Syriani. The pricing structure is a little convoluted: Tickets are $25, though you can choose to attend just the happy hour ($10) or concert ($12). If you buy both, you get a free drink. Reservations are recommended; get more details on the Alliance's Web site, francedc.org.
Several of the DJs behind the funk/soul/hip-hop/reggae night Fatback are branching out for a rougher-edged vibe tonight at Dahlak. The brand new Pigheadz has its roots in drum 'n' bass, ragga, dubstep and hip-hop. Should be interesting. Doors are at 9, and there's no cover.
Friday, March 6
On Fritz's iPod right now, there are at least a half dozen jazz albums featuring the propulsive, pulsing bass of Butch Warren. Maybe you've heard some of them: "Go" and "A Swinging Affair" by Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock's "Takin' Off" with the now-standard "Watermelon Man," pianist Sonny Clark's "Leapin' and Lopin," Donald Byrd's "A New Perspective" and the sprawling Hank Mobley collection "Straight No Filter." All classics of Blue Note's mid-'60s heyday, and all anchored by D.C. native Butch Warren. Then, in the middle of the decade, his credits just disappear. Warren, who's struggled with heroin addiction, left New York, came back to D.C. and spent the next few decades dealing with homelessness, hospitalization for paranoid schizophrenia and group houses, interspersed with periods where he's been a fixture at Twins or Columbia Station. (Read Marc Fisher's story on Warren's life here.) Everything seems to be going well for Warren now, and he's headlining the weekly concert at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest tonight, along with longtime friend and supporter Peter Edelman and sax player Knud Jensen. Admission is just $5, and if you get there early, soul food supper is available from 6 to 8:30.
We have a little We Fought the Big One reminder over here. As in, it would be wrong to write about the awesome post-punk DJ night every single month, so try to keep it to every few months. But this week is a no-brainer, as its five-year anniversary time for Marx Cafe's first-Friday-of-the-month celebration of all songs jagged, angular, quirky, British and 20-30 years old. OK, that's not all you'll hear from regular DJs Brandon and Rick, but they always dig up the best obscure stuff, often with help from guest DJs. Expect to hear some more recent material tonight as Rockville native Kevin Pedersen will trade sets. Pedersen runs What's Your Rupture?, which is simply the finest indie-pop label around these days. He's responsible for introducing us Americans to the likes of Love Is All and the Long Blondes, while also releasing all of Cause Co-Motion's ramshackle greatness. And the best is yet to come, as March will see the release of a new album from Comet Gain, the most melodic and melancholy bunch of former mod-popsters you'll ever find. Good tunes are a given, and there will be free posters, stickers and mix CDs and happy hour deals on Belgian beers all night.
If you love rare funk and soul music from the '60s and '70s, you've got the Funky 16 Corners in your top bookmarks. (If you haven't get over there as soon as you finish reading this.) Blogger Larry Grogan is on a neverending quest for crazy Philly soul, psychedelic boogaloo, straight-up dance floor-filling madness, rare and amazing records that contain covers of "Maggie May" and "Lady Marmalade" -- and that's just in the last two weeks or so. Then, after unearthing these gems, Grogan shares the MP3s with the world. Amazing dude. Here's the thing: If his blog and his podcasts are that good, imagine what he's like as a DJ. Find out tonight at Dahlak, where Grogan and cohort DJ Prestige are joining DJ Nitekrawler for a very special edition of Moneytown, Nitekrawler's monthly soulstravaganza. If they don't blow the roof off the joint, then congratulate Dahlak's owners on having the most structurally sound building in D.C. Never a cover.
Saturday, March 7
Wait, wasn't it just Mardi Gras last week? And we're already gearing up for St. Patrick's Day? Faith and begorrah. While we don't have to worry about green beer quite yet, the annual Leprechaun Lap bar crawl will be turning downtown streets into a giant roaming party. Nine bars, including Mackey's, Rumors, James Hoban's and the Black Rooster, are offering food and drink specials from 1 to 9, followed by a late-night party at Steve's Bar Room. Start at Mackey's between 1 and 6, where you'll pay $10 for a wristband if you bring two cans of food for the Manna Food Center. (It's $13 if you don't. Do the right thing.) Then go wherever you want, getting $2 Miller Lites, $3 Peronis and other discounted drinks. While bars get inevitably get loud and crowded, these crawls can be good ways to meet new people and be social while not dropping a lot of cash -- and helping the less fortunate -- so we heartily endorse them. Besides, if Recessions is too packed, you can always head to the Front Page, Madhatter or Singapore Bistro for some breathing room.
Who doesn't love coming up with a silly band name? Come on, like you haven't spent an hour or six on that Facebook game where you find a random Wikipedia entry, end of a quote and Flickr picture to create an fake band's album cover. Apparently coming up with a band name based on the name of everyone's favorite drummer is pretty popular, too, with Atlanta's Gringo Star and Austin's Ringo Deathstarr getting into the act, in a devious plot to confuse bloggers around the country. The latter makes a righteous racket, going with the can't-miss approach to live performance in which the band turns everything up as loud as it goes and blasts away for less than 30 minutes. Hey, if it worked for the Jesus and Mary Chain, why not? That seems to be the band's general M.O. -- listen to "In Love" on the band's MySpace page for proof. If your eardrums have been treating you bad lately and you want to punish them, head to our old stomping grounds of WMUC at University of Maryland to catch the band, along with locals Flying Eyes and Pittsburgh's Lampshades.
The Hometown Heroes welcomes guests from Our Neighbor to the North this month, as DJs Pope and Oji headline the late-night throwdown at the Trinidad and Tobago Association Clubhouse on Georgia Avenue. The duo -- know to their moms at Oji Morris and Brian Pope -- really are heroes to Baltimore's deep and soulful house scenes, and have been since the early '90s. They hosted a weekly dance music show on Morgan State's WEAA for more than a decade, they run the Poji record label, which features some of the city's top talents, and they've DJed countless parties throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. They're joined in the main room by fellow Charm City veteran Lovegrove, who runs the late-night Sonic Soul parties at 1722 and other venues. Downstairs, there's a heavy change of pace, as Version Sound and King Selassie I provide dub and dancehall pressure. The 18-and-over party is one of the longest in D.C.; it runs from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Admission is $10 before 1 a.m. and $15 after.
Tuesday, March 10
You can argue that "Watersports" is the album that many people in D.C. have been waiting almost five years for. Nevermind that it comes from Mi Ami (listen), a band based all the way across the country in San Francisco. But two members of the band -- Daniel McCormick and Jacob Long -- were in Black Eyes, who were seen by many as the next great D.C. band thanks to their sweaty, funky, punky live shows. But the band called it quits in 2004, right before its second album came out, and when Q and Not U disbanded a year later, that was pretty much it for that era of Dischord D.C. The next few years saw local venues littered with bands advertised as "ex-Black Eyes" but eventually that became code for "you're probably not going to like this unless you like formless, skronky sorta-music." A handful of singles by Mi Ami declared it a band to be reckoned with, and "Watersports" confirms that. There are some serious jams on the album -- half of the songs stretch to the seven-minute mark -- but those songs are the strongest and that speaks to the band's strength. The clanging racket and spastic vocals are still there, but the grooves are much stronger. Tonight's show at the Velvet Lounge is going to be a very good one, and that's before accounting for openers Food for Animals (listen) and Lexie Mountain Boys (listen). The latter of those simply must be seen to be believed.
--Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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